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Solar Bears Week in Review: A weekend of firsts

With some help from Syracuse, Orlando finally gets in the win column.

Syracuse Crunch Jimmy Huntington (15) before a face-off against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, October 4, 2019. Rochester won 3-2 in OT.
Scott Thomas Photography

Three games into the regular season, the Orlando Solar Bears found themselves still looking for their first win of the year, and facing a two-game set against Florida, who had yet to lose in regulation after their first three games. With a little help from up north, the Solar Bears have found their way into the win column.

News and Notes:

On Thursday, Orlando received some help from Syracuse, as the Crunch reassigned defenseman Oleg Sosunov and rookie forward Jimmy Huntington to the Solar Bears. Sosunov had appeared in just one game for Syracuse, back on October 16th against Utica, going scoreless with 2 penalty minutes. Huntington was scoreless in four appearances, last suiting up on October 19th against Charlotte.

Additionally, the first recall to Syracuse for the season went to defenseman Matthew Spencer, who had appeared in 3 games for the Solar Bears.

Friday, 10/25: Orlando 4, Florida 2

Still looking for their first win, the Solar Bears returned to the Amway Center on Friday evening to start a home and home weekend set against their in-state rivals, the Everblades.

Orlando got off to a great start midway through the first period, scoring twice in a span of 38 seconds. At the 10:23 mark, Taylor Doherty scored his first of the season unassisted for a 1-0 lead. With Florida’s Patrick McCarron taking a tripping call 36 seconds later, it took special teams just two seconds to capitalize. Hunter Fejes scored his first to double the Orlando lead.

The Solar Bears continued to pour on the offense in the second. Mike Monfredo scored his first goal of the year 7:43 in for a 3-0 lead. Brent Pedersen added his first goal with 8:50 remaining in the period, putting Orlando up 4-0 and chasing Everblades starter Cam Johnson out of the net in favor of Ken Appleby. The goaltending change seemed to wake up Florida, as they cut the lead to 4-1 on a Blake Winiecki goal with 7:41 to go in the period.

Appleby managed to stop any further Orlando goals, but the Everblades could only get one more against the Solar Bears, cutting the lead to two with less than a minute to go in regulation. With that, Orlando finally broke into the win column after starting the season 0-3.

Spencer Martin picked up the win in net, stopping 30 of 32 shots. Huntington had his first pro points in his Orlando debut with a pair of assists.

3 Stars:

3. Hunter Fejes (ORL) 1 goal

2. Spencer Martin (ORL) 30 saves

1. Taylor Doherty (ORL) 1 goal, 1 assist

Now let’s look in on the coach’s post game meeting with the team:

Saturday, 10/26: Florida 2, Orlando 1 (SO)

It was off to Estero on Saturday to finish off the two-game set.

The first two periods were essentially a goaltenders’ duel between Zachary Fucale and Appleby, as both combined to stop all 26 shots faced. Trevor Olson finally broke through 6:33 into the third, scoring his first of the season for a 1-0 Solar Bears lead. That lead would only last for about six minutes, as Michael Huntebrinker tied the game up with his third goal of the season.

After a scoreless seven minutes of overtime, it was on to Orlando’s first shootout of the season. In the first round, Huntington was denied by Appleby, while Fucale gave up a goal to Winiecki. Michael Brodzinski and Huntebrinker were denied in round two. Zach Magwood scored on Fucale in round 3, giving the Everblades the extra point.

Fucale finished with 28 saves on 29 shots in defeat. Tristin Langan had the lone assist for Orlando.

3 Stars:

3. Michael Huntebrinker (FLA) 1 goal

2. Zachary Fucale (ORL) 28 saves

1. Ken Appleby (FLA) 27 saves

This Week:

Orlando returns home on Tuesday night to host Jacksonville, then they start their November slate on Sunday afternoon at home against South Carolina.